Session Three Episode 3 - Resist the leap to action
Welcome to our video series on practicing adaptive leadership.
In the previous video we covered the first tip of practicing adaptive leadership - Don’t do it alone (Please
visit our previous video for the first tip - Don’t do it alone).
In this video lesson, we’ll look at the second tip of practicing adaptive leadership, resist the leap to
Adaptive challenges require one to reinterpret, question their own values as well as habits and behavior.
It requires a lot more reflection than spontaneous actions. In times of crisis, pressure mounts to take quick
action. This plays out as strength for many people and as such many people rise to the occasion to do
something. Emergency management is a needed skill. It has enabled people to save those who are trapped
in a burning building and even those who were drowning.
Adaptive leadership is different from rescuing people from fire. Adaptive challenges are hard to define
and require people to question their own priorities, habits, behaviour and priorities. When leading
adaptive change, you will encounter resistance by stirring the pot, upsetting the status quo and creating
Dr. Daniel had recently been transferred to ABC hospital. The hospital had just recorded a number of
deaths resulting from a strange disease that had spread in Neema town. Patients had the same symptoms
as those who were suffering from Malaria. His colleagues opted to administer Malaria vaccines to these
patients. However, patients' conditions worsened resulting in deaths. Hospital management was desperate
to find the cure of this disease and samples had been sent to different laboratories both locally and abroad.
Dr Daniel together with 2 more doctors were allocated the hospital wing dealing with the disease. As the
patients were admitted, groaning in pain, his colleagues were looking at Malaria drugs as the only resort
of helping the patients against the pain and to cure the disease. Dr Daniel believed the disease patients
were suffering from was not malaria hence he could not administer the drug despite the noises from
patients. Some families were bitter with him as they felt the doctor they came to seek help from was not
helping. On realizing that, Dr Daniel opted to join the lab technicians, encouraging them to put more
hours in finding out the cause and the structure of the disease. As this process continued, more and more
deaths were reported especially on patients who were on Malaria treatment.
A week later, it was discovered that the disease had a different structure from malaria and malaria drugs
boosted the spread of the disease in the patient’s organs. Patients who had not been given malaria drugs
were treated and discharged.
Solving an adaptive challenge takes time and reflection. One has to resist the pressure to do something
rather one should spend time diagnosing the problem. Spending time diagnosing a problem when a
solution is urgent gets uncomfortable. However, you have to give yourself time to assess your own skills
and to determine whether you are the right person to intervene. Feel free to leave the challenge to
someone else if they will have a better chance of success. Always take time to assess the risk; ask yourself
whether the potential rewards are worth the risks.